[quote="LotusCarsLtd, post:11, topic:196465"]
More clarification: I want to eventually get a PhD and teach theology in a university setting. I'm not looking to do ministry or pastoral work.
If you want to teach at the university level, the rule of thumb is to get into the best PhD program possible so that you can teach (and get tenure) at the best university possible. I'm not saying only the best Catholic PhD programs, but the best PhD programs overall. I studied theology as an undergrad at ND, and most of my professors did Ivy League or other top-ranked PhDs, and the situation will be similar at most other universities.
You can do the PhD immediately after completing an undergraduate degree, or you can do a Master's degree (in theology you'll want one that they say explicitly will prepare you for further academic study of theology, typically a Masters of Theological Studies or MTS) and then move on to the PhD. Since you mentioned your background is in business and engineering, you will probably not be qualified for any PhD programs without having done an MTS first.
I have several friends in the MTS program at Notre Dame, some of which are planning to move on to PhD studies afterwards. Notre Dame will give you a solid theological formation from an unabashedly Catholic department; orthodox Catholic theologians are not difficult to find, as most of the faculty have sworn the mandatum.
[quote="ByzCath, post:15, topic:196465"]
On a side note, does the Dominican House of Studies accept lay people into their program? I thought it was just a theologate.
Yes, it does accept lay people.
[quote="LotusCarsLtd, post:17, topic:196465"]
Well I recently ran into another issue that needs to be considered. I had a great conversation today with my business professor who himself is familiar with numerous divinity students at his alma mater. The basic gist of what he told me was that I have to be absolutely sure I want to study this (mainly because of the work involved).
But one of the points that he discussed with me (both in our meeting and before during class) was the importance of differentiating yourself in your career (and sorta hinting at the bad things that happen if you don't). I wholeheartedly agree and I feel the same applies here when one studies theology. It seems many people study theology and it also seems that many might be doing so in the hopes of becoming professors. But in all honesty what are the chances of any of us finding good work even in a good economy? It seems teaching jobs in the humanities are always hard to come by and if as many people as it seems to me are also studying theology to become professors then the competition could be cutthroat.
So for me I realized that perhaps I need to differentiate myself like crazy if I have any chance of finding work as a professor...work to apply my background in a way that hasn't been done before and use this to my advantage. I have a business and engineering/technology background, how can I use this in my theological studies to differentiate myself?
PS: My professor also stated that I don't necessarily have to be a theologian or theology professor...I can certainly study faith-based issues but in a sociological or psychological role instead. Ideas anyone?
Honestly, you need to be 110% sure that graduate studies and a career in higher education are what you want to do. What drives you to want to study theology for 5-7 years? What drives you to want to spend the rest of your life teaching college students, attending conferences, reading, researching, and writing? Are you OK with moving around the country (and the world), incurring more student loan debt, and potentially putting on hold other life plans (such as marriage and family) without a guarantee that you will have a well-paying university job upon completion of your advanced degree?
Tenure-track positions in the humanities are incredibly difficult to come by these days (not that they were ever easy to come by!), and even if you land one you will have to research and write for years in order to land tenure. My suggestion would be to speak with theology professors and grad students at a variety of institutions and ask about their experience of grad school, grad school life, and the hunt for their university teaching position, as well as what kind of hiring is taking place at their universities currently. Unfortunately, I don't think that the career prospects are much better for other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences outside of theology. The supply of qualified PhD candidates is far greater than the demand for theologians.
On a personal note, I considered grad school in theology or political theory as an undergrad, and am very glad that life experience--marriage and a job outside of academia--led me elsewhere. Every professor I talked to about grad school told me to first get a job to experience life outside the ivory tower, and I am so glad that they did.
For a VERY frank discussion of grad student life, check out this article.